Business owners and tourism operators on P.E.I. are reacting with hope and optimism to the province's new five-step reopening plan.
The plan, announced by Premier Dennis King and Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Heather Morrison Thursday, includes an opening to the Atlantic provinces June 27 and the rest of Canada in August, contingent on increasing vaccination rates and low COVID-19 case counts.
"It's not going to be the traditional tourism season that we're accustomed to. We know that going into it," said Tracey Singleton, owner of Bosom Buddies Cottages and Suites in Cavendish.
"But the fact that I can call my manager, ask her to start hiring staff, tell her to start opening up cottages and be able to tell my visitors that when they can actually come to me, that just takes away so much uncertainty."
I think you'll see today a lot of operators say, 'OK, I'm pushing the green button. I'm going ahead.' — Kevin Murphy
She said since the announcement was made, she's already started receiving calls from off-Island visitors who want to book with her this summer.
"People are calling and saying, 'Is it true? Can we really come this year?'" said Singleton.
"Today I have a lot more hope, a lot more optimism."
Kevin Murphy is also feeling that sense of optimism following the announcement.
"I think you'll see today a lot of operators say, 'OK, I'm pushing the green button. I'm going ahead. I'm going to open. I'm going to hire my staff and I'm going to get ready,'" said Murphy, the president of Murphy Hospitality Group.
"That's good news for the industry, because, you know, it's been 14 months," he said.
Murphy is part of a business continuity group that worked with the province on the reopening plan. He said it's been a difficult year for business owners.
"Sometimes people don't see it on P.E.I. because things look pretty normal," said Murphy.
"The losses that people incurred in the hospitality industry, they're real."
Things are now looking up, however, said Murphy.
"Across the country, people are sitting in places that are not as good as P.E.I. and they just would love to be here. And that's what we're looking at right now, is, come on down to Prince Edward Island and we welcome you with open arms," he said.
The Tourism Industry Association of P.E.I. also reacted to the reopening plan.
In a statement to CBC News, the association said in part, "This plan offers the framework for both industry and potential visitors to start to plan around. It is more important than ever that Islanders get vaccinated so that we can move through these stages quickly, and safely and start to ease these restrictions.
"We will continue to push for the federal supports, specifically wage subsidies for industry this year."
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